On board 35m XOXO with owner Richard Dlesk

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My Life in Boats: On board 35m XOXO with owner Richard Dlesk

22 September 2022 • Interview by Grace Trofa

From catching fish from a rowboat to partying like a rock star, this marketing maven’s boating life has run the gamut...

One of my favourite vacations was with my extended family on Put-in-Bay in Ohio when I was just 10. We would rent five cabins and that’s when I fell in love with boating. I have come a long way from those days fishing from a rowboat with a concrete anchor, catching Lake Erie perch with double hooks.

When we graduated to a six metre Starcraft, I remember boasting to my father that someday I would buy an 11- to 15 metre yacht.  I bought my first boat, a 3.6 metre flat bottom with a 12-horsepower engine from the Sears Roebuck catalogue, when I was a junior in high school. Ten years later, in Connecticut with my wife, I wanted to get the kids out on Long Island Sound, so I bought a 6.7 metre cuddy cabin with a Mercury engine. That was the beginning of a long series of boats. The following season I traded up to a eight metre Wellcraft, then I bought a 10.3 metre Bayliner with a flybridge, followed by an 11.5 metre. I thought I hit the home run when I traded up to a 14 metre pilothouse motor yacht. I was still my own captain and cut my eyeteeth boating to Block Island, Newport and Nantucket.

XOXO in the Exumas

It wasn’t long before I had an itch and traded up to an 18 metre with a 600-horsepower MAN engine. I explored the Bahamas on that boat with my wife and our dog, Tiffany, a pound dog that looked like a wheaten terrier and poodle mix. I was in Newport when I saw our 22.5 metre Cheoy Lee. I cut a deal over the phone and added six feet to the length, and it was with this boat that I learned what true yachting was. ESPN used her for a fishing show, and I remember painting fibreglass until the last minute to get her show ready. Our next boat was the 34 metre Broward Lady Sharon Gale. We ran her for 12 years until 2017 when she was severely damaged by a hurricane in St Maarten and it wasn’t until last year that we decided to jump back into boating with another 34 metre Broward. 

My wife, Sharon, wanted a unique name, so we chose XOXO for hugs and kisses, and, being a marketing guy,  I had the name put in lights. I had to have a nice tender, a 9.7 metres NauticStar with twin 425-horsepower Yamahas, and a hot tub on the upper deck. For my wife the non-negotiable was a formal dining room and beautiful bedding so guests would feel special. I wanted a boat that would make me proud, and my non-negotiable was that I wanted every blister removed.

34 metre Broward Lady Sharon Gale was damaged in a hurricane

I always feel like I should have been born in 1492; I love discovering new places that are not on the radar. I found Peter Island Resort in the middle of the night while anchored off Norman Island in the BVIs; the place is so tropical it feels like French Polynesia. Another discovery is MacDuff’s Cottages with great beaches and diving on Norman’s Cay in the Bahamas; we’ve since made great friends there with the locals. Lots of great memories like hanging with Warren Buffett on my friend’s boat, popping open Dom Perignon, having a good time. We went to Nikki Beach on St Barths a few times a year. You know how they say what goes on in Nikki Beach stays in Nikki Beach – the bar bills were high, and we partied like rock stars. These days we are settling down. After a season in New England, we will use our boat in the Florida Keys and the Exumas.

Peter Island in the BVIs is a preferred cruising sport

Why do men remember every boat they had? I think it’s because you can equate each boat to where you were in life. Some life experiences come with boating that are not like anything else; it’s a charmed life. Now we have grandkids and they will start boating with us and want to go fishing and exploring, and we will get to relive those experiences again.

More about this yacht

Broward Marine   34.75 m •  1997

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